Saturday, 7.6.2025
7.30 pm

The Swiss symphonic treasury


Marie-Claude Chappuis, mezzo-soprano
Sherniyaz Mussakhan, violin
Swiss Orchestra
Lena-Lisa Wüstendörfer, conductor

Together with the Swiss Orchestra, the mezzo-soprano Marie-Claude Chappuis presents orchestral songs by Joachim Raff, a native of Lachen in Canton Schwyz. This programme also features works by Mendelssohn, Wagner and Walter.

Prices: CHF 135 / 105 / 85 / 60 / 45


Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy:
Overture to The fair Melusine, op. 32

Joseph Joachim Raff:
Two scenes, op. 199
Traumkönig und sein Lieb for voice and orchestra, op. 66

Richard Wagner:
“Träume” from the Wesendonck Lieder, WWV 91B

August Walter:
Symphony in E-flat major, op. 9

About the programme

The relationship between Switzerland and Germany is sometimes rather complicated. Now and then, the Swiss refer to their northern neighbour charmingly as the “big canton”, but at other times they start to worry about their independence and develop feelings of insecurity towards everything German. And yet these two nations are interlinked by a long tradition of cultural exchange. German poets and artists have let themselves be inspired by the beauty of Switzerland, and the paths of composers from both countries have also often crossed, closely intertwining their respective biographies. Our programme entitled “The Swiss symphonic treasury” brings them together again.

When Richard Wagner had to flee Germany on account of his politics, he found temporary exile in Switzerland. He and the Swiss Joachim Raff from Lachen in Canton Schwyz knew each other well and corresponded with each other – though they also had an ambivalent relationship, especially after Raff published his near-300-page essay entitled The Wagner Question, in which he criticised his colleague’s compositional style as lacking profundity: “These melodies float on the surface of […] his harmonies like blobs of grease in a watery soup”. Although Raff was referring here to the overtures of Wagner’s operas, his criticism could also be applied to the song “Träume” (Dreams) from the Wesendonck Lieder, which Wagner composed in his Zurich exile. At the same time, however, Raff’s own style as a composer was influenced by Wagner. This makes the idea all the more appealing of juxtaposing Wagner’s song with Raff’s orchestral song Traumkönig und sein Lieb (“The dream king and his love”) and his Two scenes for mezzo-soprano and orchestra.

Felix Mendelssohn is represented here by his overture to “The fairy tale of the fair Melusine”. He is regarded as one of the early supporters of the young Raff, because he convinced the renowned publishing house Breitkopf & Härtel to accept the Swiss composer’s early works, thereby laying the foundations for Raff’s later career. Mendelssohn travelled across Switzerland several times, and just like Wagner he was enthusiastic about its mountainous regions. The German composer August Walter, in contrast, feared the Swiss countryside: “In fact, I have no desire to bury myself in a Swiss town where […] the cows are driven home from the fields on an evening!” But contrary to this assertion, Walter soon felt at home here, and in fact spent most of his life working in Basel, among the Swiss.


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